On mornings where I am dropping my boys off to school, I often tell them three specific things. “Be good. Be kind. Be smart.” I stress those are in order of importance. I know they are smart and will learn, but I want them to be good, kind people first.

I was recently disheartened when the Children’s Museum announced it would be closed from Jan. 26 through Feb. 4. They were not closing for remodeling or COVID. In this case, the 50-year favorite in Denver had to close to give staff some much-needed time off.

It was not time off from work. It was time off from an increasingly rude public.

“We know the stress of the last two years has taken a toll on everyone in our community, but regrettably, some guests who object to the museum’s masks have been inappropriately directing their anger toward our staff,” the notice read.

So much anger had been directed towards the staff that the museum thought the best thing was to close its doors.

While I understand the frustrations with masks, COVID and a world that seems to be ignoring our voices, our votes, and our feelings – I hate what we are becoming. Those frustrations are being pushed on innocent people.

I, like many, am getting saddened by the bad behavior displayed just because we don’t agree with something. In this case, it is the Children’s Museum, which means the bad behavior being displayed is likely in front of impressionable children who are growing to think it is an acceptable way to act.

It is not just the Children’s Museum either. I have seen this behavior from adults at schools, groceries, youth sports, stores and everywhere.

There is a saying I believe in, “Attitude reflects leadership.” It is not that surprising that citizens are behaving this way. Just look at our leaders in Washington, at the state level and in our local communities. We are behaving just as our leaders are behaving.

One leader I have been impressed with over the last year has been Castle Rock Mayor Jason Gray. While Castle Rock citizens may or may not agree with how he votes, he continually asks for civility among the council and in the community.

We need all our leaders to lead by example. Mayor Gray does not just say that. I have not seen him lose his cool or be disrespectful, and anyone who watches Castle Rock knows the debates over the Design Review Board can be tense.

As citizens, even if our leaders of this country cannot do it, I hope we can start leading by example again and checking our attitudes at the door and using good manners even in situations that are extremely frustrating.

I want my children to be kind, good people. I work hard to set that example. I must admit, in the last two years, I too have had a few moments of weakness of which I am not proud. However, I work hard to remember those trying to enforce the rules are definitely not the ones who made them.